Practice Intelligence Australia

1 August 2014 - Highlights of the 2014 Mahlab Report

[Analysis of the report by Legal Practice Intelligence]

The 2014 Mahlab Report, just released, reports on lawyer remuneration and job satisfaction in the Australian legal market. The report is based on a survey which is supplemented by Mahlab’s in-depth understanding of the market as well as information gathered from its clients and candidates throughout the year.

The survey shows that 63% of lawyers in private practice were satisfied in their current role yet 47% considered leaving their role. Therefore some lawyers considered moving on even though they were satisfied in their current position. The statistical results imply that 10% of all lawyers are in this category. For this group, moving on is likely to be motivated by ambition and opportunity rather than dissatisfaction. 

The survey’s focus is on lawyers who work in CBD firms providing services to corporate Australia. Private practice growth areas reported by the survey were Property, Construction, Banking & Finance, Corporate and Employment Law.

The report highlights some further trends:

- Contract corporate lawyers increasingly provide resourcing solutions
- The size of equity partnerships are on a downward trend
- New employment models are addressing a “bottleneck” of lawyers below partner level and
- Technology is being embraced to provide remote working and flexible work arrangements
 
The survey findings give an impression of an increasingly competitive market for employment in law firms but one which still continues to offer lawyers the financial rewards.

The 2014 Mahlab Private Practice Report (PDF) can be downloaded here

 

30 July 2014 - Challenges in the Legal Landscape

 

25 July 2014 M&A Boom Doesn't Always Mean Legal Fees Boom

If video does not display try this external link 

 

 

 

 

23 July 2014 - Interview with Jim's Conveyancing Divisional Franchisor

click image below to read more



 

 

21 July 2014 - One Year Anniversary for Conveyancing Franchise


website screenshot

Jim’s Conveyancing was launched 12 months ago in Victoria. At the time it had expansion plans for 2014 that included franchising in other states.

Jim’s Group franchising covers more than 30 different services with an estimated annual revenue of more than $300 million. "Jim’s" is a brand that is probably more widely known than any name currently operating in the legal market.

Jim’s Conveyancing franchises are being offered for $38,800 plus GST.

Conveyancing franchising outside of Victoria has not been rolled out. The impact of Jim’s in the Victorian market appears to have been more of a ripple than a wave - so far.

Although the conveyancing division appears to have had a slow start, Jim’s Group, with its name recognition, hundreds of thousands of customers and a track record of business success, should probably not be underestimated.

 

16 July 2014 - Law Firm Employment Turning the Corner

 

14 July 2014 - Shine Lawyers Quietly Enters Market for Wills, Estates and Family Law

Shine Lawyers is offering Will Preparation, Estate Administration and Contested Wills services to Queensland, NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and NT.

Family law practitioners are located in Dalby and Toowoomba, Queensland.

There has been no ASX announcement about broadening its offering of private legal services.

Since listing on the ASX in May 2013 Shine Lawyers has consistently communicated a strategy of “inch wide – mile deep” referring to the range of services it offers. Diversification from personal injury work has been in what the company calls emerging practice areas. It lists these as: Product Liability, Professional Negligence, Environmental, Disability Insurance and Superannuation, Class Actions, First Party Insurance, Landowners Rights, Aviation, Asbestos and Human rights.

In June 2013 the company restated its focus on damages based litigation, identifying Wills as an example of an area of law that it would not be diversifying into.


Screen shot showing promotion of Wills and Estates Law


7 July 2014 - Divorces: State by State Numbers and Per Capita Rates

click table below for full article

 

3 July 2014 - If Millennials took over your law firm, it might look like this

Click below to read full article

 

1 July 2014 - Community Legal Centres Welcome One-Off Grants but Object to Restrictions on Activities

 

27 June 2014 - Migration Agents' Regulator to be Reviewed


 

24 June 2014 - Private Equity Firm with PEXA Interest in Play for SAI Global 

 
PEP website screenshot

Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) has submitted a non-binding indicative proposal to SAI Global (SAI) to acquire 100% of its issued share capital. The acquisition value proposed is around $1.1 billion.

SAI announced that following this unsolicited proposal from PEP, SAI has been approached by a number of other parties also expressing interest in SAI and its businesses.

Earlier this month the SAI Board cautioned “at this time there is no guarantee that a proposal that is capable of being put to shareholders will eventuate from any party.”

As reported in the Australian Financial Review (23/6/14):

PEP owns Link Market Services which holds around 10% of PEXA. It is also the majority shareholder of VEDA which is a PEXA integrator/partner.

Another PEXA shareholder is Mr Paul Little, through his private company Namarong Pty Ltd, acquiring 5% of PEXA last year as part of a $78 million raising. He is expected to join the board of PEXA.

WA’s Langate holds around 16% and Macquarie Capital 20%. Other shareholders include State Governments and the four major banks.

CEO of PEXA, Marcus Price was quoted as saying that there were more capital raisings planned as the roll-out accelerated.

 

20 June 2014 - Plexus Law Automates Trade Promotions Legal Service

 

Article and Interview about Plexus Law's Permit Wizard

Plexus Law website

 

19 June 2014 - E-Conveyancing Arrives in WA Plus Property Sales Activity Update


17 June 2014 - Tracking Lawyer Salaries

Recruitment firm Mahlab has been tracking and reporting on lawyer salaries since 2000. This information is freely available on its website. Mahlab’s analysis covers small commercial CBD firms to the largest firms. Each year it gathers data by conducting a survey.

The survey is completed by individual lawyers. The larger the data-set, the more valuable will be the results from the survey. The Mahlab survey is now open until 30 June 2014 and lawyers are invited to participate.

As an added incentive, one participant will win a $500 voucher for the retail outlet or charity of their choice.

Link to Survey

A growing demand for property lawyers

Mahlab is seeing an unprecedented demand for property lawyers, read more

 

12 June 2014 - Shine Lawyers Announces Acquisition of Two Law Firms, Capital Raising and  Trading Update

Shine Corporate Limited (ASX:SHJ) has today announced the acquisition of Emanate Legal, a leading legal specialist in land owner access rights, and Stephen Browne Personal Injury Lawyers, a leading Western Australia plaintiff litigation firm, for consideration of $27 million to $35.5 million.

Emanate Legal is based in Queensland with offices in Townsville, Roma and Brisbane and is a leading advisor to landowners affected by mine, rail, port and gas developments.

Western Australian based Stephen Browne Personal Injury Lawyers operates in similar practice areas as Shine’s personal injury businesses.

Shine’s Managing Director, Simon Morrison, said the acquisitions deliver on two core strategic goals – geographic diversification of income from personal injury and increased contribution from emerging practice areas.

“We are delighted to be welcoming the growing businesses of Emanate and Stephen Browne into the Shine Group,“ said Mr Morrison.

Capital Raising

The acquisition will be funded via a fully underwritten 1 for 10 renounceable entitlement offer at $1.90 to raise $29.45 million.

Trading Update

Shine expects to report in excess of 20% EBITDA growth in FY14, which would be towards the lower end of the previously provided guidance range of $34 to $37 million.

Key factors that have driven FY14 performance have been improved productivity and focus on cost efficiencies, offset by increased marketing costs and lower than expected resolution outcomes on some cases.

 

 

12 June 2014 - Inside Bitcoins

 

10 June 2014 - Primerus Enters Australian Market

 

9 June 2014 - Bury the Billable Hour

Listen to the guru of value pricing Ron Baker being interviewed on time-based billing v Value Pricing.

 

 

5 June 2014 - Rough Ride for Investors in Professional Services Businesses on the ASX

 

30 May 2014 - Class Action Debate

From Slater & Gordon

 

29 May 2014 - Conveyancing Boom Stalls In April

Property transfer statistics for the month of March 2014 showed a solid increase compared to March 2013 in the three eastern states:
NSW +32%
Victoria +28%
Queensland +26%

For the two states that have made data available for April 2014, the comparison to April 2013 shows a dampening of the surge in activity:
Victoria -0.1%
Queensland +8%

RP Data reported that dwelling values in Melbourne declined in April 2014 compared to March 2014 by -0.5%, Sydney +0.5% and Brisbane +1.1%.

Historically, property sales volumes have moved in the same direction as property prices. The data for Victoria and Queensland continues to validate this phenomenon. 

The year on year increase in dwelling values to April 2014 were (RP Data):
Sydney 16.7%
Melbourne 15.6%
Brisbane 11.8%

 

27 May 2014 - Online Family Law Portal Open to Collaborating with Lawyers

 

23 May 2014 - Big Bang Date Announced for E-Conveyancing

Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) has announced that e-conveyancing will be available to all conveyancing practitioners in NSW and Victoria in February 2015.

The Queensland PEXA roll-out begins in February 2015 with all Practitioners able to use PEXA from April 2015. 

All Western Australian Practitioners will be invited to join PEXA from May 2015. 

It is envisaged that Practitioners in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory will all be invited to join PEXA across Q3/4 2015. 

PEXA has partnerships with a number of major industry conveyancing software and information search providers. Known as PEXA 'Sponsors', Practitioners will be able to nominate one of these providers through which to access PEXA. Integration with these Sponsors occurs in early 2015.

From late October 2014 there will be a controlled release in selected regions, one of which will be Wollongong.

In NSW, Land and Property Information (LPI) has announced an industry consultation about how best to manage property conveyancing processes in a dual electronic and paper environment. 

LPI has published a consultation paper ‘Conveyancing Reform - Concurrent Electronic and Paper Conveyancing’ to canvas issues and proposed reforms. For more information about attending a consultation forum and accessing the paper click here (PDF).


21 May 2014 - How to Keep Your Law Firm Future-Fit

 

 

15 May 2014 - Three New Financial Institutions Get on Board with E-Conveyancing

 

13 May 2014 - LawPath Receives $600K Investment


As reported at Startupsmart:

Lawpath, a “one stop-shop” for individuals and businesses with legal needs, has announced the closure of a new funding round, with the full investment coming from Brook Adcock, the founder of the jewellery business Pandora Australia.
 
Adcock has invested $600,000 into LawPath, which is Australia’s largest online legal services business.
 
“I look for businesses that are truly disruptive and have the potential to scale, not only in Australia but globally – LawPath is such a business,” Adcock says.

 

10 May 2014 - (NSW) The Number of Will Disputes

Read article at SMH.com.au "The number of will disputes reaching the Supreme Court has shot up by almost 60 per cent since 2005 ..."

 

9 May 2014 - Slater & Gordon to Grow Online Legal Services

Click image below to view video at The Australian  

 

Visit the new Slater & Gordon online Unfair Dismissal service:
https://unfairdismissal.slatergordon.com.au

 

9 May 2014 - Competition Heats Up for Lending to Law Firms

Bendigo Bank is lending to lawyers and law firms that require funding for the acquisition of a legal practice or the admission of a new partner.

For this lending program Bendigo Bank does not require real estate security.

For example, if an individual solicitor was acquiring a practice that had fee revenue of $400,000 per annum, Bendigo Bank has indicated that it would consider lending the acquirer up to $220,000.

The amount available to lend is calculated at 55% of the annual fee revenue. Therefore 55% x $400,000 = $220,000. There are different lending caps depending on whether the borrower is a sole practitioner or whether the funds are to be used for admitting a new partner into a multi-partner firm.

If you would like to make contact with Bendigo Bank to find out the detailed terms and conditions, you can receive a referral from Peter Frankl, Legal Practice Broker, via the contact details available at this link.  (Peter Frankl does not receive commissions or referral fees from financial institutions).

 

7 May 2014 - How Innovative Can a Large Law Firm Be?

How innovative can a large law firm be? A lot more than you might think. Seyfarth Shaw is an 800 lawyer firm with offices in the U.S., London, Shanghai, Melbourne and Sydney.

The firm opened its Australian offices in June 2013, launching an employment law practice with "
eight of the most highly credentialed and highest-profile labor and employment partners from three leading Australian law firms," as announced by the firm at the time.

Boston based employment law partner Lisa Damon provides an insight into the firm's culture. See video below (especially from 4 mins onwards): 

 

4 May 2014 - A secret blacklist of lawyers and migration agents compiled by the Department of Immigration has been discovered

Fairfax Media has published an article with the headline: "Secret blacklist of immigration lawyers"

The article states:

A secret blacklist of lawyers and migration agents compiled by the Department of Immigration has been discovered, sparking outrage about the ''vindictiveness'' of the department and calls for an immediate inquiry.

The list of so-called ''agents of concern'' names 30 lawyers and migration agents around the country who have been deemed to be ''high risk'' or of concern by the department, leading to greater scrutiny of their applications for clients seeking partner visas ....

Barrister Greg Barns, a spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, warned the list was highly defamatory. ''McCarthyism is alive and well in Australia and it's in the Immigration Department,'' he said.

However according to this post, Migration Agents appear to be less concerned

 

30 April 2014 - A Behind the Scenes Look at the Process of Creating The New Office Space of Three Law Firms and AGs Dept

Mallesons     Herbert Smith Freehills 

Allen & Overy    The Legal Workplace 

 

29 April 2014 - The New Legal Workplace

Over the past 20 years Bates Smart has designed over 100,000 sqm of legal workplace fitouts. Analysis of their database from these projects has highlighted 3 key findings. The report they have created also points out that space per person was 24sqm in 2002, 18sqm in 2013 and could drop to 12sqm by 2017. Download the report by clicking the image below:

 

24 April 2014 - Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Sevices

 

17 April 2014 - Law Industry Startup Funded with Revenue Loan

LegalVision accessed $300,000 funding through a revenue loan. The business is considering scaling up its subsidiary legal practice through franchising or licensing. Read more by clicking image below:

 

 

16 April 2014 - HWL Ebsworth to Combine with South Australia's Kelly & Co

 

16 April 2014 - A $50 Million Boost to Access to Litigation Justice

Litigation funder IMF (Bentham IMF Limited) is set to raise $50 million “to increase financial flexibility and for working capital purposes” the company announced.

The raising of $50 million via the issuing of Bonds has coincided with the release of the Productivity Commission’s draft report on Access to Justice which reaffirms the importance of litigation funding: “the Commission judges that third party litigation funding can provide important benefits for access to justice”.

IMF has been funding litigation for over 12 years and now operates in overseas jurisdictions. The funds raised from the Bond offer will help IMF grow in Australia and overseas.

IMF offers funding for litigation claims with a claim value of at least AUD$5 million and for arbitration claims, a claim value of at least AUD$10 million. IMF is the largest litigation funder in Australia and the first to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

The Bookbuild for the proposed offer of Bentham IMF Bonds has been successfully completed. The recipients of the Bonds will be Institutional Investors and clients of Syndicate Brokers. The Bonds will be listed on the ASX (expected 30 April 2014) with a maturity date of 30 June 2019 and a variable interest rate calculated at a margin of 4.2% above the Bank Bill Rate.


11 April 2014 - E-Conveyancing Q & A

In Sydney last month, 200 lawyers and conveyancers gathered at a seminar as part of their preparations for the coming e-conveyancing system. The seminar was co-hosted by GlobalX and Pexa. Topics discussed included security protocols, verification of identity, trust accounts, system functionality, pricing principles, change management and conveyancing software.
 
The seminar was recorded and is available for viewing here (requires entering a name and email address).

 

10 April 2014 - Not A Same Old Same Old Access to Justice Report

 

8 April 2014 - A New Study Reveals What the Law Firm of the Future Could Look Like

 

8 April 2014 - Government Document Verification Service to be Upgraded and Support E-Conveyancing 

It was recently announced that publicly listed technology and consulting company Oakton [ASX: OKN] signed a four year contract with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) to rebuild, host and manage its Document Verification Service (DVS) - which is used for real-time verification of proof-of-identity documents.

The DVS is used to verify that the documents presented by someone, in order to prove their identity, have been genuinely issued by the relevant issuing authority.

Identify verification is therefore a two-part process. One part is associating a person to documents by means of visual verification and the other part is verifying the validity of the documents used. 

The announcement by Oakton stated that “the solution will deliver to the department a secure, extensible and cost effective service that will provide the flexibility and scalability to meet the future needs of the Government and commercial stakeholders alike.”

Organisations that have so far been approved as Gateway Service Providers for the DVS are DVGL Pty Ltd; Edentiti Pty Ltd; Global Data Company; Optus Networks Pty Ltd; Veda Advantage Limited and Zip ID Pty Ltd.

Legal Practice Intelligence recently profiled ZipID here. Learn more about the DVS here.

 

4 April 2014 - Massively Too Many Law Students?

The AFR has published statistics about the growth in the number of law students at universities. The AFR cites a 31% growth in the number of undergraduate law students in Australia between 2001 and 2012. By 2012 there were 36,000 undergraduate law students in Australia.

A 31% increase over 11 years - is this a devastating outcome for would-be lawyers?

Between 2001 and 2012 the Australian population increased by about 18%. Therefore the population of law students increased by a “real” 13% taking into account the increase in the general population.

Statistics can even be produced to show that there is a shortage of law students. Between 2001 and 2012 Australia’s GDP increased by more than 35% and up to 40% depending on the measure used. A 31% increase in the number of law students looks like it has not kept pace with economic growth.

If you believe that there are too many undergraduate law students today then in 2001 you would have probably believed that there were too many in 2001. 



2 April 2014 - Job Vacancy Numbers for Solicitors Compared to All Occupations

The charts show three-month moving averages of the number of internet-advertised job vacancies from data compiled by The Australian Government Department of Employment. The data does not include some of the newer online outlets such as LinkedIn, legal-specific job sites or job postings that occur on firms' own websites.

It is not just vacancies for solicitors that are sinking or stagnant, though the legal industry appears to be faring worse than All Occupations. The February 2014 outcome for solicitors was -2.5% compared to February 2013, while All Occupations was up 6.1%.

  

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